Traveller’s first aid kit
First aid kit is an essential element during travels. No matter where you go, the first aid kit should be taken. Nevertheless, the chosen destination will determine the composition of our first aid kit. There is a group of medicines needed at every latitude and longitude, but there are also medicines that are especially useful for us in specific climatic conditions. Remember that each country is different and requires different preparation. Therefore, the following guide is more a hint which basic medicines to take. Nonetheless, everyone should visit a Travel Health Doctor for thorough consultation and analysis of the country they are going to.
The equatorial zone, and by Koppen called the tropical zone, extends north and south of the equator. It is distinguished by a humid climate, high temperatures and two seasons: dry and wet. The closer to the equator, the wetter, hotter. Equatorial zone countries include, among others Indonesia, Malaysia, Congo, Gabon, Cameroon, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, part of Mexico, and Thailand.
The equatorial zone is largely covered with lush rainforests, rich in fauna and flora. Often unknown to us, tourists from different climate zones and hence – dangerous. High temperatures are also conducive to the development of various microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, to which people from outside this climate zone may not be resistant.
Moreover, the countries of the equatorial zone are predominantly developing or extremely poor countries, with limited access to drinking water, education and electricity. Often, sewage systems are extremely makeshift, and there is no sustainable waste management, which is why wastewater frequently goes to nearby water reservoirs or nearby rivers from which residents use for cooking and drinking. Waste is not segregated, it is thrown into the forest, where it decomposes slowly, often causing contamination with chemical substances that later penetrate into groundwater.
BASIC PRINCIPLES OF TROPICAL HYGIENE
Use of protective clothing after sunset (long pants, long sleeves, full footwear).
Use of insect repellents sprayed on the skin several times during the day and night.
The use of mosquito nets during sleep at night and window mesh.
Avoid bathing in open freshwater reservoirs.
Avoid walking barefoot or in outdoor sandals outside the hotel environment.
The use of full trekking footwear during a trip to the rainforest.
Use only boiled / mineral water for drinking (bottled, canned water).
Do not use ice cubes for drinks.
Do not eat raw foods stored on ice.
Brush teeth only in boiled or mineral water.
Wash or disinfect hands before each meal, dry hands without using fabric towels.
Avoid eating milk, meat, cheese, mayonnaise, ice cream, cream, butter and raw or undercooked eggs.
Wash and peel tropical fruit and vegetables.
Do not eat food prepared in poor sanitary and hygienic conditions or from an unknown source.
Avoid visiting markets with live animals.
Avoid contact with accidentally encountered animals (in Bali dogs carry a parasitic skin disease).
Avoid accidental sexual contact and the use of precautions against sexually transmitted diseases.
Change of contact lenses after each swim in the sea, ocean or hotel pool.
Sun protection: use of a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with a filter (SPF min. 30).
First aid kit for the tropical area
In the beginning, I want to say that I am an opponent of antibiotics (did you know that your body regenerates over 3 months after antibiotic therapy?). That is why I advise against buying and using this type of medicine in developing countries without consulting a doctor. The only antibiotic that I take with me is medicine for so-called travellers’ diarrhea, prescribed by a Travel Doctor with a detailed description of the dosage.
Painkillers and antipyretics
- Paracetamol (remember, doses over 20g / day can be fatal)
- Sulfacetamide 10%: eye drops
- Octenisept – for wounds
- Furagin – for urinary drug inflammation
Drugs to prevent motion sickness
- Dimenhydrinate (Aviomarin / Dramamine)
- Xifaxan: prescription, but very good for traveller’s diarrhea
- Nifuroxazide, Loperamide
- Activated carbon – not available everywhere, and often “saves lives”.
- Electrolytes – you can get it in the form of effervescent tablets.
- Probiotics – ATTENTION! Buy ones that don’t have to be in the fridge!
- Repellents for skin and clothing: Mugga
- Tea tree oil – works great against mosquitoes and is also good for hair
- Calcium: effervescent tablets
- Fenistil: gel for use on the skin after insect stings, burns sunny, allergic urticaria
Women’s first aid kit
- Provag gel
- Birth control pills
- Medical thermometer
- Sunglasses/cap / headscarf
- Cream with a UV filter of 15 or more
- Eye drops – dry quickly at high temperatures
- Nasal drops – I love the gel ones – Oxalin, I always have it with me
- Panthenol – for sunburns or aloe vera gel soothes any skin irritation. Plus the saur cream works very well on sunburn – put on red skin, wait to dry. Cream draws heat from the skin. An old, but good and proven way to fight with a sunburn.
- A small hands sanitizer – it is especially useful in transport, such as an aeroplane, ferry, bus, where we have to use public toilets.
- A bottle with a carbon filter – not everything will filter, but it will always clean the water a little.
Malarone is medicine for malaria and opinions on its taking are very divided. Personally, I think you should contact a travel medicine doctor who will advise you if and how to take, depending on your direction. I took it to Indonesia as a medicine “in my pocket”, so I would take it only after the symptoms will occur and rush to the hospital.
Bringing medicines and customs law
Prescription drugs, but sometimes also those obtained without a prescription, can be problematic when travelling, and there may be unpleasant consequences for trying to bring them to some countries. In some Asian countries, you can even get the death penalty for possession of drugs !!! That is why it is worth getting acquainted with the regulations concerning the importation of medicines to the country to which we are going and all the transit countries! A website that may be useful International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
It is worth having a Medical Certificate in English with you. Sounds mysterious and often doctors have no idea how to issue such a document. So it is worth going to a travel doctor who should be familiar with that document, but every doctor should be able to issue such a certificate, after explaining what it should contain. The certificate is issued for prescription drugs and those taken for chronic diseases that are imported in non-standard quantities.
What must be in it?
- your data (who are the medicines for)
- drug names (their Latin names)
- doses of drugs
- doctor’s signature and stamp
Before travelling to “exotic” countries, it is worth getting acquainted with the recommended and sometimes required vaccinations. Some should be taken3 months prior to departure !!!
Insurance is another important matter before travelling to any country. Do not underestimate this, do not hide behind young age or lack of health problems. Get decent insurance.